By Mary Mazzoni on Oct 1, 2013

K-12 Students Get Real-World Lessons in Recycling


This scrap metal is being processed and crushed into bales to prepare it for recycling. Flickr/ahisgett

This scrap metal is being processed and crushed into bales in preparation for recycling. K-12 students will be able to learn about this process through curricula developed in part by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. Photo: Flickr/ahisgett

Recycling may seem simple on the surface, but it takes everything from chemistry to trigonometry to make it happen — a lesson that millions of students will learn this year thanks to a new partnership between the scrap recycling industry and education nonprofit JASON Learning.

Managed by Sea Research Foundation, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, JASON Learning provides multimedia curricular experiences in science, technology, engineering and math — called “STEM” subjects — for K-12 students, along with corresponding professional development for educators.

By teaming up with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), JASON will now offer real-world curricula to help teachers and students understand both the importance of recycling and the applications of the STEM subjects in the industry.

Through the new lesson plans, students will learn how recyclers use physics, chemistry and advanced engineering to sort, separate and shred metals, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics and paper for reuse as commodities in manufacturing. Some classes will also get to see STEM in action at scrap and recycling yards, say ISRI executives.

New real-world curricula help teachers and students understand the applications of the STEM subjects in the recycling industry. Photo: Flickr/OUCHcharley

New real-world curricula help teachers and students understand the applications of the STEM subjects in the recycling industry. Photo: Flickr/OUCHcharley

“Our hope is that once students see the exciting science and technology involved in recycling, they will not only appreciate the benefits and become strong advocates of recycling, but that they’ll see the industry as a potential career path if they choose to pursue a STEM education,” Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, said in a press release.

The lesson plans include standards-based K-12 curriculum, interactive web-based experiences to enhance student engagement, student visits to ISRI facilities and classroom lessons about the life cycle of commonly recycled materials.

Curriculum and supporting materials are available free of charge through the ISRI and JASON websites.


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